Image of the Month

19-01-01 IMAGETri­umph of the Virtues by Andrea Man­tegna [also known as Pal­las Expelling the Vices from the Gar­den of Virtue and as Min­erva Expelling the Vices from the Gar­den of Virtue]
Tem­pera on can­vas, 160 x 192 cm painted around 1500. Musée du Lou­vre, Paris

I had no title or artist for this paint­ing at first. It attracted me because I couldn’t fig­ure out, for the life of me, what the hell it was about. It took me hours to find the painter and title. I first found the Pal­las ver­sion of the title. I could find no ref­er­ence any­where in Greek mythol­ogy to this par­tic­u­lar inci­dent, but it is clearly Pal­las Athena, bear­ing all her sym­bolic para­pher­na­lia, who is the main char­ac­ter. There are a plen­i­tude of tales around Athena. How­ever, the Min­erva ver­sion of the title pro­vides a hint: Min­erva was the Roman god­dess con­ven­tion­ally equated with Athena, and the story is prob­a­bly a Roman one dat­ing from much later. Man­tegna would far more likely have culled the story from some Latin source. On the other hand, he may have sim­ply made it up. The Renais­sance played fast and loose with Clas­si­cal sources, and doubt­less this was painted to suit polit­i­cal rhetoric about “drain­ing the swamp”. The paint­ing lit­er­ally rep­re­sents a swamp enclosed in a ruined wall, with Athena dri­ving out a horde of mon­sters that rep­re­sent the “vices” in the con­ven­tional medieval fash­ion. The paint­ing was com­mis­sioned to cel­e­brate the coro­na­tion of Isabella d’Este as Mar­quise of Man­tua. She was widely seen as the ideal ruler in her time, and has been revered by fem­i­nists ever since.


(Ward 1988) The Nav­i­ga­tor: A Medieval Odyssey
(Clough 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.665 ― Drag­on­fire, Part 1
(Bole 1991) Star Trek, the Next Gen­er­a­tion: Ep.89 ― First Con­tact
(Steven­son 1974) The Island at the Top of the World
(Clough 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.666 ― Drag­on­fire, Part 2
(Clough 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.667 ― Drag­on­fire, Part 3
(Bill 1980) My Body­guard
(Moore 1990) Demon Wind
(Trelfer 2018) Dark Cor­ners Review: (329) Demon Wind
(Pal 1960) The Time Machine
Read more »

First-time listening for December 2018

29961. (Wolf­gang Amadeus Mozart) Bastien et Basti­enne, Operetta in One Act, K.50
. . . . . [d. Clemen­cic; Choy, Kirch­ner]
29962. (Audra McDon­ald) Sing Happy
29963. (Wham!) The Best of Wham
29964. (Jacques Offen­bach) Ba-Ta-Clan [com­plete operetta; d. Couraud; Boulan­geot, Corazza,
. . . . . Armade]
29965. (Car Seat Head­rest) Teens of Denial
29966. (Adolphe Charles Adam) “Can­tique de Noël” [s. Elīna Garanča]
29967. (Adolphe Charles Adam) “Oh Holy Night” [arr. for boy soprano & orches­tra]
29968. (Armen­ian Patri­ar­chate Choir) Nativ­ity of Christ
29969. (Healey Willan) The Three Kings
29970. (Sofia Gubaidulina) Hal­lelu­jah for Cho­rus, Boy Soprano, Organ & Orches­tra
Read more »


27580. (Mario Liv­erani) The Ancient Near East ― His­tory, Soci­ety and Econ­omy
27581. (Johnny Hart) B.C. ― Great Zot, I’m Beau­ti­ful
27582. (Ni Sheng; U Wa Tang & Adam Gry­de­høj) Urban Mor­phol­ogy and Urban
. . . . . Frag­men­ta­tion in Macau, China: Island City Devel­op­ment in the Pearl River Delta
. . . . . Megac­ity Region [arti­cle]
27583. (Fred C. Woud­huizen) The Luwian Hiero­glyphic Con­tri­bu­tion to the Alpha­bet [arti­cle]
27584. (Robert van Gulik) The Emperor’s Pearl
(Kath­leen Warnock) Best Les­bian Erot­ica:
Read more »

Image of the month: The Palace of Purification

18-12-01 IMAGE Harris PlantThis is not the mag­nif­i­cent main build­ing of the R. C. Har­ris Water Treat­ment Plant in Toronto. It’s merely a pump­house and main­te­nance build­ing below the more famous main struc­ture which is “opu­lent with mar­ble entry­ways and vast halls filled with pools of water and fil­tra­tion equip­ment”. Yet even this struc­ture is grand, wor­thy of the self-taught genius who believed that civil engi­neer­ing was a spir­i­tual calling.


(Hunt 1982) The Mys­te­ri­ous Stranger
(Honda 1957) The Mys­te­ri­ans [地球防衛軍; Chikyû Bôei­gun]
(Trelfer 2014) Dark Cor­ners Review: (175) The Mys­te­ri­ans
(Wright 2010) Mur­doch Mys­ter­ies: Ep.39 ― The Tesla Effect
(Break­ston & Crane 1959) The Manster [双頭の殺人鬼]
(Trelfer 2018) Dark Cor­ners Review: (322) The Manster
(De Felitta 1981) Dark Night of the Scare­crow
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.654 ― Time and the Rani, Part 1
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.655 ― Time and the Rani, Part 2
(May 1940) The Invis­i­ble Man Returns
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.656 ― Time and the Rani, Part 3
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.657 ― Time and the Rani, Part 4
(González 1965) The Fool Killer Read more »

First-time listening for November 2018

29928. (Richard Strauss) Mac­beth, Tone Poem after Shake­speare for Orches­tra
29929. (Seun Kuti & Egypt 80) Many Things
29930. (Infected Mush­room) Con­vert­ing Veg­e­tar­i­ans
29931. (Hilde­gard of Bin­gen) O vis aeter­ni­tatis
29932. (Hilde­gard of Bin­gen) Nuch ape­ruit nobis
29933. (Hilde­gard of Bin­gen) Quia ergo fem­ina mortem instruxit
29934. (Hilde­gard von Bin­gen) Cum pro­ces­sit fac­tura dig­iti Dei
Read more »


27556. (Philip José Farmer) Sail On! Sail On! [story]
27557. (Joan Collins) The Snow Queen [ill. Kathie Lay­field]
27558. (Clive Gam­ble) Archae­ol­ogy: The Basics
The Mag­a­zine of Fan­tasy [& Sci­ence Fic­tion], Vol.1, #1, Fall 1949:
. . . . 27559. (Lawrence E. Spi­vak) Intro­duc­tion [pref­ace]
. . . . 27560. (Cleve Cart­mill) Bells on His Toes [story]
. . . . 27561. (Perce­val Lan­don) Thurn­ley Abbey [story]
. . . . 27562. (Philip Mac­Don­ald) Pri­vate ― Keep Out! [story]
Read more »

Seventh Meditation on Democracy [written October 1, 2008] REPUBLISHED

https _s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com_736x_ee_59_33_ee593300e425c02784549e0228c025e1In the begin­ning years of this blog, I pub­lished a series of arti­cles called “Med­i­ta­tions on Democ­racy and Dic­ta­tor­ship” which are still reg­u­larly read today, and have had some influ­ence. They still elicit inquiries from remote cor­ners of the globe. They are now buried in the back pages of the blog, so I’m mov­ing them up the chrono­log­i­cal counter so they can have another round of vis­i­bil­ity, espe­cially (I hope) with younger read­ers. I am re-posting them in their orig­i­nal sequence over part of 2018. Some ref­er­ences in these “med­i­ta­tions” will date them to 2007–2008, when they were writ­ten. But I will leave them un-retouched, though I may occa­sion­ally append some ret­ro­spec­tive notes. Mostly, they deal with abstract issues that do not need updating.

14-03-18 BLOG SEVENTH MEDITATION ON DEMOCRACYA few days ago, I was in the sub­way, and I over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion about our cur­rent national elec­tion. Two boys who, from their appear­ance, could have been no fur­ther along in school than grade nine or ten, were dis­cussing the tele­vised debates between the lead­ers of the five major polit­i­cal par­ties. What struck me, as I lis­tened in, was that the dis­cus­sion was cogent and intel­li­gent. One of the boys, who seemed the youngest, was par­tic­u­larly artic­u­late, and his opin­ions were not the sim­ple par­rot­ing of some adult he had heard, or the pur­suit of a party line. In fact, his analy­sis of the debate showed keener obser­va­tion and judg­ment than that of the pro­fes­sional com­men­ta­tors who dis­sected the debate after the broad­cast. Read more »

Image of the month: Kel Tagelmust

18-11-01A Tuareg noble of the Sahara, exactly as I remem­ber such men. They are occa­sion­ally referred to as kel tagel­must (veiled peo­ple) because of the head­gear and robe dyed with shim­mer­ing indigo. This gar­ment is fine-tuned for the Sahara’s vio­lent sand­storms, blis­ter­ing sun, wild swings in tem­per­a­ture, and is designed to con­serve pre­cious body mois­ture. Per­haps it’s the inspi­ra­tion for the “still­suit” in Frank Herbert’s Dune. The seven tribal con­fed­er­a­tions of the Tuareg always seemed to me a much more plau­si­ble model for Herbert’s sci­ence fic­tion clas­sic than the Badawi of Ara­bia, and the his­tory of the Sahara and Maghrib have episodes that par­al­lel the story of Dune.